Nutrition field workers of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) meet to report on their activities
Photo: Shehzad Noorani
Community Based Rural Development is a participatory approach to reducing rural poverty. It promotes collective action by communities by putting them in control of development projects and programs. Community-based organizations assume important responsibilities in project administration and oversight, and often directly manage project resources. Participation in these organizations can provide the politically marginalized with a voice that enables them to negotiate with government agencies, civil society organizations, and private businesses. In so doing, they cultivate trust and social capital, and accumulate experience in representing themselves. As a result, they are empowered to act collectively, and to become informed agents in the design and conduct of programs now and in the future.
Decentralization of service delivery to local agents can substantially offset a number of the costs and logistical challenges of serving rural populations that are dispersed over wide geographic areas. Coordination of project activities becomes less bureaucratic and more manageable, and with improved targeting of poor and vulnerable stakeholders. It also goes far in assuring that the design of interventions and the identification of priorities is demand-driven, adapted to local realities, and responsive to changing risks and opportunities. Engagement by community based organizations can also make public administration more transparent and accountable. Improved governance is characterized by more efficient use of public resources and more effective implementation of public policy.